Thursday, December 29, 2016

Montana Pork & Tart Apple Cornish Pasty

     A Montana Style Cornish Pasty For A Chilly Day!
     Cornish tin miners were world famous for their expertise in tunneling underground mine shafts.   Wherever these expert miners went around the globe, they brought their Cornish Pasty cooking knowledge with them.
     In a tin mine, Arsenic builds up on dirty hands and the Arsenic can easily contaminate food.  The solution was to create a stuffed pastry that had a crust handle.  The crust handle was grasped with Arsenic tainted hands and the fingers never had to touch the soft crust section that contained a savory filling.  After eating the good part of the pasty, the thick crust handle was discarded as an offering to the Knockers.  The Cornish definition of a Knocker is devilish imp that causes mine accidents, so it was best to appease these little creatures.
      About 100 years ago, many Cornish miners worked the Montana tin mines.  Traditional ingredients for Cornish Pasties were scarce in Montana, so the filling was made with with whatever food was cheap and available.  Pork and apples fit the bill of fare!  Pork and apples is also a classic flavor combination, so it did not take long for Montana Pasties to become famous.
     Life in a Montana tin mine is pretty cold all year round and the outdoor climate can be very harsh in the winter.  With this in mind, Montana Cornish Pasties were designed to be hearty enough to warm up a cold tired worker.  A Montana Pasty is definitely one of the best cold weather food items that there is!
     Pâte Brisée Recipe:
     *If you want to make an authentic Cornish Pasty dough, then substitute lard for some of the unsalted butter in the Pie Dough recipe.  
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website:
     Montana Pork & Tart Apple Cornish Pasty Filling: 
     This recipe yields enough filling for 1 large Cornish Pasty.  
     There are no tricky cooking techniques involved with making traditional Cornish Pasty fillings.  The ingredients are simply placed in a pot and boiled!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of light pork broth in a sauce pot.
     Add 5 ounces of coarsely chopped lean pork.  (Pork shoulder or pork loin is best.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped salt pork fat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped hickory smoked bacon.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of diced russet potato.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced swedes (rutabaga).
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced carrot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Step 3:  Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced peeled tart green apple (Granny Smith Apple).
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Step 4:  Place the pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till most of the liquid evaporates and only about 1/3 cup of liquid remains.  
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add just enough plain fine bread crumbs while stirring, to soak up the liquid in the pot.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons is plenty.)
     Step 7:  Let the Montana Cornish Pasty Filling cool to room temperature.
     Place the filling in a container.
     Chill the filling to 41ºF in a refrigerator.

     Montana Pork & Tart Apple Cornish Pasty:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty pasty. 
     Step 1:  Roll a sheet of pie dough till it is about 3/16" thick.
     Cut a round piece of pie dough sheet that is 10" in diameter.
     Step 2:  Mound the Montana Pork & Tart Apple Cornish Pasty Filling on the center of the round pie dough sheet.  Be sure to leave a 3/4" bare border.
     Step 3:  Brush the bare pie dough border with egg wash.
     Fold the pastry dough over the stuffing, so it forms a half moon shape.
     Roll and press the seam edge of the pie dough, so it resembles a thick handle.
     Poke 2 small steam vent holes through the dough, where they will not be seen.
     Step 4:  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
     Place the pasty on the parchment paper.
     Brush the pasty with egg wash.
     Step 5:  Place the pan in a 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust is golden brown.
     Step 6:  Set the hot pasty on a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with a ramekin of sour cream on the side.

     This Montana Cornish Pasty will warm up an ice cold day like nothing else can!  Do not forget to toss the crust handle to the evil little Knockers, so no disaster will strike!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Beer Batter Chocolate Wedding Cake!

     We Beer Batter Anything!
     There is a restaurant in Boston that literally will beer batter and deep fry anything that a customer requests.  Customers are welcome to bring in their own food items and the fry cooks will do the rest.  Items like leftover pizza and cookies are popular customer sourced food.  Leftover birthday cake and wedding cake is popular too.
     The problem with this beer batter restaurant concept is that it does not conform to modern health code standards.  In many states, all restaurant food purchases have to be made with registered sources.  This reduces food borne illness outbreaks and it makes investigating a food borne illness outbreak much easier to do.  
     There really is no telling how a customer handles food or whether a customer's food is contaminated with chemical, physical or biological health threats.  Once the customer food item is in a kitchen, the risk of contaminating other customer's food is greatly increased.  From a business liability standpoint, allowing customers to bring their own food in to be beer batter fried is taboo.
     A restaurant chef can make or purchase the items that customers commonly request for beer batter frying.  This is the only way to satisfy modern health codes.  If a restaurant purchases a wedding cake or birthday cake from a registered resource, then the leftover cake can be used to make some nifty beer batter fried snacks.
     Home cooks can beer batter just about anything that they want.  Some home cooks are more adventurous than others.  Beer Batter Wedding Cake or any kind of cake actually is not a bad idea.  A ginger flavored beer batter works best for cake of any kind.  The beer batter does not have to be sweet, because the cake is sugary enough.  
     Cheap manufactured lard or butter cream icing will melt in deep fryer temperatures, so do not expect this kind of icing to remain intact.  A few other kinds of icing will survive deep frying with a beer batter coating.  
     The appeal of beer batter cake is not hard to imagine.  The beer batter adds a crisp crunchy crust and the cake heats up, so it is like the cake just came out of the oven.  A leftover piece of chocolate cake will become aromatic and very rich tasting when beer batter fried.        

     Ginger Beer Batter:
     This recipe yields enough beer batter for 2 portions of cake.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of pilsner beer in a mixing bowl.  (Leftover flat beer actually is best for this recipe.)
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour while whisking to make a medium thin batter.  (Less than 2 cups)
     *The batter should be the same thickness as pancake batter.
     Chill the beer batter for 20 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Beer Batter Chocolate Wedding Cake:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Any kind of leftover chocolate cake can be used.  A cheap chocolate cake from a grocery store is not a bad choice.
     Step 1:  Cut a rectangle shaped piece of leftover chocolate wedding cake that measures 4"x5"x2".
     Chill the cake to 41ºF in a refrigerator, so it becomes firm.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil to 360ºF in a high sided pot.
     Step 3:  Dip the chilled piece of cake in the ginger beer batter.  Make sure the cake is completely coated.
     Step 4:  Carefully place the beer batter coated cake in the hot oil.  (The cake will float.)
     Fry the cake till the beer batter coating is crispy golden brown.
     *If necessary, use a fryer net to flip the cake over, so both sides cook evenly.
     Step 6:  Use a fryer net to place the fried beer batter cake on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to remove any excess oil.
     Pre-made syrup products and whipped cream are fine for this ultimate junk food item!
     Paint a plate with streaks of your favorite chocolate syrup or raspberry sauce.
     Place a dollop of whipped cream on the plate.
     Place the Beer batter Chocolate Wedding Cake on the garnished plate.
     Serve while the cake is still hot!

     Viola!  The ultimate beer batter street food!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cheeseburger Shorty

     Philadelphia Tavern Food!
     Classic junk food and sandwiches are still the mainstay at most Philadelphia area taverns, brew pubs and bars.  Cheesesteaks, burgers, hoagies, chicken fingers and wings are the top selling menu items in this area, because customers favor food items that they are familiar with.  When something new or something exotic is introduced, the conservative clientele nearly always balks at giving it a try.  
     The recent gastro-pub cuisine trend has also gained a foothold in Philadelphia area townships that have a high median income.  Some of the Philadelphia area gastro-pub cuisine is worth checking out, but the majority of the gastro-pub offerings are criticized as being glorified junk food that is way overpriced.  Philadelphia working class consumers tend to shy away from fancy brew pub food, because they have conservative tastes and they prefer old classic tavern food that offers good dining value.  
     Classism now comes into play in the modern Philadelphia tavern game.  Gastro-pubs tend to attract craft beer snobs and culinary egomaniacs that spend too much time watching food network television.  The conservative working class crowd does not exactly fit in with this scene, so they go to familiar taverns that have old school food and ice cold domestic beer.  As one can see, the social class division line is craft beer, which is pricing itself completely out of the working class market.
     Today's Cheeseburger Shorty definitely is old school Philly tavern food.  There is no guessing game as to what this sandwich is all about, other than the name.  The word "Shorty" refers to a small Hoagie Sandwich.  A classic hoagie sandwich is one foot long and a small six inch hoagie is usually called a shorty by old school tavern cooks.
     A hoagie is usually made with Italian cold cuts and cheese.  A hoagie is garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles.  The spread is usually mayonnaise, yellow mustard or both.  A hoagie can also be made with grilled chicken, fried chicken or cheeseburger, but this kind of hoagie is usually only offered at a tavern as a special du jour.  Because a split chicken breast or cheeseburger is only enough meat to cover half of a foot long hoagie roll, the sandwich naturally is a shorty by definition. 

     Cheeseburger Shorty:
     This recipe yields 1 small 6" hoagie sandwich.
     Hoagie Rolls are shaped like a foot long sub roll.  A classic Hoagie Roll has a soft crust texture that is slightly chewy.
     Step 1:  Cut a foot long hoagie roll in half.
     Split the roll open lengthwise.
     Step 2:  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise, yellow mustard or both on the roll.
     Step 3:  Garnish the bottom half of the roll with:
     - romaine lettuce
     - thin sliced Bermuda Onion
     - thin sliced tomato
     - garlic dill pickle chips
     Set the Shorty "sandwich set-up" aside. 
     Step 4:  Heat a seasoned cast iron griddle over medium heat. 
     Press 5 ounces of lean ground beef into a burger patty shape that is about 3/8" thick.
     Place the burger patty on the griddle.
     Grill the burger till it is almost cooked to the preferred finish temperature.  (Medium to well done is best.)
     Step 5:  Place 2 thin slices of cheddar cheese on the burger.
     Place a domed pot lid over the burger.
     Wait for the cheese to melt.
     Step 6:  Place the cheeseburger patty on a cutting board.
     Cut the patty in half.
     Place the cheeseburger halves on the Shorty Sandwich.
     Step 7:  Use long frill toothpicks to fasten the top half of the roll.
     Cut the sandwich in half and place it on a plate.
     Serve with a pickle and potato chips of your choice.  
     Viola!  A tasty old school Philly tavern style Cheeseburger Shorty! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gorgonzola, Filipino Sweet Longaniza and Green Onion Pizza

     Gourmet Pizza!
     Pizza is a quick easy meal if the dough is made ahead of time!  Pizza dough actually tastes better when it is chilled for 1 or two days.  After 3 or 4 days, the pizza dough will start to smell like sourdough and the finished texture will be quite chewy.  
     When a yeast dough is refrigerated, the cold temperature slows yeast activity.  A cold dough has a stiff texture, but as soon as it warms up, the yeast activates and the dough becomes easy to work.
     When working a dough that has been refrigerated, it is best to use a gentle touch.  The first time that I made a pizza with a cold dough was in an Italian family style restaurant.  I thought that the dough had to be worked with more muscle, because the cold dough was stiff.  The owner of the restaurant said, "What are you trying to do?  Kill the dough or something?"  There is truth in what he said.  Working a cold dough with too much force will knock the life out of the dough.  Yeast is a living organism and it does react to too much force by becoming inactive.  
     When a gentle touch is used on cold dough, it takes longer to shape the dough.  The extra time allows the fingertips to warm the dough.  As the cold dough is gently and slowly patted out with fingertips, you can literally feel the yeast becoming active.  The dough starts to feel spongy with each touch.  As the yeast starts producing gas again, the dough becomes elastic and easy to work.      
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     Filipino Style Sweet Longaniza Sausage:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 medium size pizza.
     Spanish or Mexican Longaniza Sausage is not the same as Filipino style Longaniza.  Filipino Longaniza is flavored with sugar and Asian spices, the casing is tied in short lengths and it usually is a bright red color.  Filipino Longaniza can be found in Asian food markets.   
     Step 1:  Place 6 ounces of Filipino style Sweet Longaniza Sausage on a small roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Roast till the sausage is fully cooked, yet minimally browned.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Allow the sausage to cool to room temperature.
     Chill the sausage till it is firm.
     Step 3:  Cut the sausage into thin slices.
     Chill the sausage till it is needed.

     Pizza Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 3/4 cups.  (More than enough for 1 medium size pizza.)
     Classic Italian pizza sauce is a cold mixture.  It only is cooked in the oven!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of imported Italian canned crushed plum tomato in a mixing bowl. 
     Add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper. 
     Step 2:  Mix ingredients together.
     Place the sauce in a container.
     Chill for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.   

     Gorgonzola, Filipino Sweet Longaniza and Green Onion Pizza:
     This recipe yields 1 medium size pizza.  (12" to 14")
     Step 1:  Coat a smooth countertop with a very thin film of olive oil.  (Just a few drops of olive oil wiped on the counter is plenty!)
     Place a 10 to 12 ounce portion of the pizza dough on the countertop. 
     Use your fingertips to press and stretch the dough, till it is a flat round shape.  (12" to 14" diameter and about 1/4" to 3/8" thick.)
     Step 2:  Lightly brush a medium size pizza pan with olive oil.
     Transfer the shaped pizza dough to the pan.  (Re-stretch and shape the dough if necessary.) 
     Step 3:  Lightly brush the shaped pizza dough with olive oil.
     Spread an even layer of the pizza sauce on the pizza dough, but leave a 1/2" bare crust.
     Step 4:  Place 4 to 5 ounces of thin sliced Gorgonzola Cheese on the pizza.  
     *Gorgonzola is a strong tasting cheese, so a little goes a long way! 
     Arrange the prepared Filipino Sweet Longaniza Sausage slices on the pizza.
     Sprinkle 2 sliced green onions on the pizza.
     Step 5:  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pizza.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano on the pizza.
     Step 6:  Place the pizza pan in a 450ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust turns a golden color and a few light brown highlights appear on the toppings.  
     *Do not brown Gorgonzola Cheese!  Gorgonzola will become very bitter tasting if it is browned.  Just bake till the Gorgonzola melts.
     Step 7:  Allow the pizza to cool for 30 seconds before slicing into pie shaped slices.

     The combination of Asian spice sweet sausage, Gorgonzola, pizza sauce and green onion makes for an interesting tasting gourmet pizza!